i don't know alot about this law - how can we have a law like this one and still have children living in foster care for 2-4 years before being terminated ? anyone have any information or know where i can go on the web to read about it? thanks donna
The following is (part of) the info from the National Association of Social Workers RE: The Adoption and Safe Families Act 0f 1997 Please note the additional funds and efforts made for reunification. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ The Adoptions and Safe Families Act of 1997 (P.L. 105-89) was signed into law by President Clinton on November 19, 1997. The new law, which amends the 1980 Child Welfare Act (P.L. 96-272), clarifies that the health and safety of children served by child welfare agencies must be their paramount concern and aims to move children in foster care more quickly into permanent homes. Among the new laws provisions: Shortens the time-frame for a childҒs first permanency hearing; offers states financial incentives for increasing the number of adoptions; sets new requirements for states to petition for termination of parental rights; quote: ------------------------------------------------------- ------------------------- reauthorizes the Family Preservation and Support Program. ------------------------------------------------------- ------------------------- NASW POSITION The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) did not take an official position on the Adoptions and Safe Families Act, but strongly supported the reauthorization of the Family Preservation and Support Program, the expansion of medical insurance coverage for children with special needs, and development of state standards to ensure quality services. NASW did endorse an earlier version of the legislation, the Safe Adoptions and Family Environments Act (S.A.F.E. Act; S. 511), sponsored by Senators John H. Chafee (R-RI) and John D. Rockefeller IV (D-WV). Unlike the Adoptions and Safe Families Act, the S.A.F.E. Act included additional funding for: Family reunification services; training and retention of agency staff and cross-agency training; and residential substance abuse treatment programs for parents and their children. SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS TITLE I: REASONABLE EFFORTS AND SAFETY REQUIREMENTS FOR FOSTER CARE AND ADOPTION PLACEMENTS Child Health and Safety. The new law clarifies that the childs health and safety must be of paramount concern when making decisions about removal of a child from the home, reunification, and implementation of any aspect of the case plan for children in foster care. "Reasonable Efforts" to Preserve and Reunify Families. States must continue to make reasonable efforts to preserve and reunify families. However, the reasonable effort requirement does not apply in all cases. The exceptions include cases in which a court has found that: A child has been subjected to "aggravated circumstances" as defined in state law (including, but not necessarily limited to, abandonment, torture, chronic abuse, and sexual abuse); a parent has killed or assaulted another of their children or has assaulted the child; or a parentҒs rights to a sibling have been involuntarily terminated. In cases when reasonable efforts to reunify are not required, states are required to hold a permanency hearing within 30 days and to make reasonable efforts to place the child for adoption, with a legal guardian, or other permanent placement. Termination of Parental Rights (TPR). States are required to file a petition to terminate parental rights immediately and, concurrently to identify, recruit, process and approve a qualified adoptive family, in the case of: a child who has been in foster care for 15 of the most recent 22 months; a child who the court has determined to be an abandoned infant (as defined in state law); or a court has determined that the parent assaulted the child or killed or assaulted another of their children. In addition, states may file for termination of parental rights earlier than 15 months or for other reasons. TITLE III: ADDITIONAL IMPROVEMENTS AND REFORMS Reauthorization and Expansion of the Family Preservation and Support Program. The Family Preservation and Support Program, renamed "Promoting Safe and Stable Families," is reauthorized through FY 2001 at the following levels: $275 million in FY 1999; $295 million in FY 2000; and $305 million in FY 2001 (increases of about $20 million each year over the current baseline). Also reauthorized are existing allocation provisions, including a one percent reserve for Indian tribes, and set-asides for court improvement grants and for evaluation, training, research, and technical assistance. State plans are required to contain assurances that in administering and conducting programs, the safety of the children to be served will be of paramount concern. States are required to devote significant portions of their expenditures (after spending no more than 10 percent of their allotment for administrative costs) to each of the following four categories of services: community-based family support services; family preservation services; time-limited family reunification services; and adoption promotion and support services. Time-limited family reunification services are defined as services and activities provided to children (and their parents) who have been removed from the home and placed in foster care, for up to 15 months, beginning on the date of their removal from the home. Such services and activities may include: individual, group, and family counseling; inpatient, outpatient, or residential substance abuse treatment; mental health services; assistance to address domestic violence; temporary child care services and therapeutic services for families, including crisis nurseries; and transportation. Permanency Hearings. States are required to hold a first dispositional hearing, reanamed a "permanency" hearing, within 12 months (formerly 18 months) of the date the child is considered to have entered foster care. Entrance is defined as the earlier of the date of the first judicial finding of child abuse or neglect or 60 days after the childs removal from the home. The purpose of the hearing is to determine the childҒs permanency plan, which would include the timetable for: returning home; being placed for adoption; being placed with a relative; being referred for legal guardianship; or being placed in another planned, permanent living arrangement. TITLE IV: MISCELLANEOUS PROVISIONS Coordination of Substance Abuse and Child Protection Services. The Secretary of HHS is required to submit a report to the Committees on Ways and Means and Finance on substance abuse services. The report must be based on information from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the Administration for Children and Families and include: the scope of the problem of substance abuse in families served by child welfare agencies; the types of services provided to such families; the outcomes resulting from the provision of such services; and any recommendations for legislation to improve coordination in providing services to families. Standby Guardianship. It is the sense of Congress that states should have laws and procedures permitting a parent who is chronically ill or near death to designate a standby guardian for their minor child, without surrendering their own parental rights. The standby guardians authority would take effect upon the parentҒs death, mental incapacity or physical debilitation and consent. Preservation of Reasonable Parenting. Nothing in this legislation is intended to disrupt the family unnecessarily or intrude inappropriately into family life or prohibit the use of reasonable methods of parental discipline or to prescribe a particular method of parenting. NASW Contact: Cynthia Woodside, Government Relations Associate; National Association of Social Workers, 750 First Street, NE, Suite 700, Washington, DC 20002-4241; Telephone: (800) 638-8799, ext. 324; Fax: (202) 336-8311;
From September 2003 How Does the Child Welfare System Work? Year Published: 09/2003 What is the child welfare system? The child welfare system is a group of services designed to promote the well-being of children by ensuring safety, achieving permanency, and strengthening families to successfully care for their children. Most families first become involved with the child welfare system due to a report of suspected child abuse or neglect (sometimes called "child maltreatment"). Child maltreatment is defined by Federal law1 as serious harm (neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse, and emotional abuse or neglect) caused to children by parents or primary caregivers, such as extended family members or babysitters. Child maltreatment can also include harm that a caregiver allows to happen (or does not prevent from happening) to a child. In general, child welfare agencies do not intervene in cases of harm to children caused by acquaintances or strangers. These cases are the responsibility of law enforcement.2 The child welfare system is not a single entity. Many organizations in each community work together to strengthen families and keep children safe. Public agencies (departments of social services, child and family services, etc.) often contract and collaborate with private child welfare agencies and community-based organizations to provide services to families, such as in-home ("family preservation") services, foster care, residential treatment, mental health care, substance abuse treatment, parenting skills classes, employment assistance, and financial or housing assistance. Child welfare systems are complex, and their specific procedures vary widely by State. The purpose of this fact sheet is to give a brief overview of the purposes and functions of child welfare from a national perspective. Child welfare systems typically: Receive and investigate reports of possible child abuse and neglect. Provide services to families who need assistance in the protection and care of their children. Arrange for children to live with foster families when they are not safe at home. Arrange permanent adoptive homes or independent living services for children leaving foster care. What happens when a report of possible abuse or neglect is made? Any concerned person can report suspicions of child abuse or neglect. Most reports are made by "mandatory" reporters (persons who are required by State law to report suspicions of child abuse and neglect). In approximately 18 States, any person who suspects child abuse or neglect is required to report. Reports of possible child abuse and neglect are generally received by child protective services (CPS) workers and either "screened in" or "screened out."3 A report is screened in if there is sufficient information to suggest an investigation is warranted. A report may be screened out if there is not enough information on which to follow up or if the situation reported does not meet the State's legal definition of abuse or neglect.4 In these instances, the worker may refer the person reporting the incident to other community services or law enforcement for additional help. In the year 2001, a total of 2.7 million referrals involving 5 million children were made to CPS agencies. Approximately 67 percent (1.8 million referrals) were screened in, and 33 percent (870,000 referrals) were screened out.5 When a report is "screened in," what happens next? CPS workers (often called "investigators") respond within a particular time period (anywhere from a few hours to a few days) depending on the type of maltreatment alleged, the potential severity of the situation, and requirements under State law. They may speak with the parents and other people in contact with the child (such as doctors, teachers, or childcare providers). They also may speak with the child, alone or in the presence of caregivers, depending on the child's age and level of risk. Children who are believed to be in immediate danger may be moved to a shelter, foster care placement, or a relative's home during the investigation and while court proceedings are pending. An investigator's primary purpose is to determine if abuse or neglect has occurred and if there is a risk of it occurring again. Some jurisdictions now employ an "alternative response" system. In these jurisdictions, when risk to the children involved is considered to be low, the CPS caseworker may focus on assessing family difficulties and offering needed services, rather than gathering evidence to confirm the occurrence of abuse or neglect. At the end of an investigation, CPS workers typically make one of two findings"unsubstantiated" ("unfounded") or "substantiated" ("founded"). (These terms vary from State to State.) Typically, a finding of "unsubstantiated" means there is insufficient evidence for the worker to conclude that a child was abused or neglected, or what happened does not meet the legal definition of child abuse or neglect. A finding of "substantiated" typically means an incident of child abuse or neglect (as defined by State law) is believed to have occurred. Some States have additional categories, such as "unable to determine," that suggest there was not enough evidence to either confirm or refute that abuse or neglect occurred. The agency will initiate a court action if it determines that the authority of the juvenile court (through a child protection or "dependency" proceeding) is necessary to keep the child safe. To protect the child, the court can issue temporary orders placing the child in shelter care during investigation, ordering services, or ordering certain individuals to have no contact with the child. At an adjudicatory hearing, the court hears evidence and decides whether maltreatment occurred and whether the child should be under the continuing jurisdiction of the court. The court then enters a disposition, either at that hearing or a separate hearing, which may result in the court ordering a parent to comply with services necessary to ameliorate the abuse or neglect. Orders can also contain provisions regarding visitation between the parent and child, agency obligations to provide the parent with services, and services needed by the child. In 2001, approximately 903,000 children were found to be victims of child abuse or neglect.6 What happens in substantiated cases? If a child has been abused or neglected, the course of action depends on State policy, the severity of the maltreatment, the risk of continued or future maltreatment, the services available to address the family's needs, and whether the child was removed from the home and a court action to protect the child was initiated. The following general options are available: No or low riskחThe family's case may be closed with no services if the maltreatment was a one-time incident, there is no or low risk of future incidents, or the services the family needs will not be provided through the child welfare agency, but through other systems. Low to moderate riskReferrals may be made to community-based or voluntary in-home CPS services if the CPS worker believes the family would benefit from these services and the risk to the child would be lessened. This may happen even when no abuse or neglect is found, if the family needs and is willing to participate in services. Moderate to high riskחThe family may again be offered voluntary in-home CPS services to help ameliorate the risks. If these are refused, the agency may seek intervention by the juvenile dependency court. Once there is a judicial determination that abuse or neglect occurred, juvenile dependency court may require the family to cooperate with in-home CPS services if it is believed that the child can remain safely at home while the family addresses the issues contributing to the risk of future maltreatment. If the child has been seriously harmed or is considered to be at high risk of serious harm, the court may order the child's removal from the home or affirm the agency's prior removal of the child. The child may be placed with a relative or in foster care. In 2001, approximately 275,000 children were removed from their homes as a result of a child abuse investigation or assessment.7 What happens to people who abuse children? People who are found to have abused or neglected a child are generally offered voluntary help or required by a juvenile dependency court to participate in services that will help keep their children safe. In more severe cases or fatalities, police are called upon to investigate and may file charges in criminal court against the perpetrators of child maltreatment. (In many States certain types of abuse, such as sexual abuse and serious physical abuse, are routinely referred to law enforcement.) Whether or not criminal charges are filed, the perpetrator's name may be placed on a State child maltreatment registry if abuse or neglect is confirmed. A registry is a central database that collects information about maltreated children and individuals who were found to have abused or neglected those children. These registries are usually confidential, and used for internal child protective purposes only. However, they may be used in background checks for certain professions, such as those working with children, so children will be protected from contact with individuals who may mistreat them. What happens to children who enter foster care? Most children in foster care are placed with relatives or foster families, but some may be placed in group homes. While a child is in foster care, he or she attends school and should receive medical care and other services as needed. The child's family also receives services to support their efforts to reduce the risk of future maltreatment and to help them, in most cases, be reunified with their child. Parents may visit their children on a predetermined basis. Visits also are arranged between siblings, if they cannot be placed together. Every child in foster care should have a permanency plan that describes where the child will live after he or she leaves foster care. Families typically participate in developing a permanency plan for the child and a service plan for the family. These plans guide the agency's work. Except in unusual and extreme circumstances, every child's plan is first focused on reunification with parents. If the efforts toward reunification are not successful, the plan may be changed to another permanent arrangement, such as adoption or transfer of custody to a relative.8 Occasionally the plan involves a permanent placement with a foster family, usually for older children who have become strongly attached to the family or for whom a suitable adoptive home cannot be found. In addition to a permanency plan, older children should receive transitional or independent living services to assist them in being self-sufficient when they leave foster care between the ages of 18 and 21. Federal law requires the court to hold a permanency hearing, which determines the permanent plan for the child, within 12 months after the child enters foster care and every 12 months thereafter. Many courts review each case more frequently to ensure that the agency is actively engaged in permanency planning for the child. In fiscal year 2001, 57 percent of children leaving foster care were returned to their parents. The median length of stay in foster care was 12 months.9 Summary The goal of child welfare is to promote the safety, permanency, and well-being of children and families. Even among children who enter foster care, most children will leave the child welfare system safely in the care of their birth family, a relative, or an adoptive home. For more detailed information about child welfare, please refer to the resources listed below. For more information about the child welfare system in your State or local jurisdiction, contact your local public child welfare agency. Other Resources Badeau, S. & Gesiriech, S. (2003). A child's journey through the child welfare system. Washington, DC: The Pew Commission on Children in Foster Care. ([url]http://pewfostercare.org/docs/index.php?DocID=24[/url]) Goldman, J. & Salus, M. (2003). A coordinated response to child abuse and neglect: The foundation for practice (The User Manual Series). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. McCarthy, J., Marshall, A., Collins, J., Milon, J., Arganza, G., Deserly, K. (2003). Family guide to the child welfare system. Washington, DC: National Technical Assistance Center for Children's Mental Health at Georgetown University Center for Child and Human Development. (Available Fall 2003). Rycus, J. & Hughes, R. (1998). Field guides to child welfare (Vol. I - IV). Washington, DC: CWLA Press. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. AFCARS report #8. ([url]www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/publications/afcars.htm[/url]) U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2002). Child maltreatment 2001. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office. ([url]www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/publications/cmreports.htm[/url]) U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2003). Child welfare outcomes 2000: Annual report. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office. ([url]www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/publications/cwo.htm[/url]) U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2003). Definitions of child abuse and neglect. 2003 Child Abuse and Neglect State Statute Series: Statutes-at-a-Glance. National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information. ([url]http://nccanch.acf.hhs.gov/general/.../sag/define.cfm[/url]) U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2003). Mandatory reporters of child abuse and neglect. 2003 Child Abuse and Neglect State Statute Series: Statutes-at-a-Glance. National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information ([url]http://nccanch.acf.hhs.gov/general/...s/sag/manda.cfm[/url]). U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2003). Reporting procedures. 2003 Child Abuse and Neglect State Statute Series: Statutes-at-a-Glance. National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information ([url]http://nccanch.acf.hhs.gov/general/...tutesglance.cfm[/url]). The Child Welfare System Chart Footnotes 1 Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (42 U.S.C. 5106 ). Each State has its own laws that define abuse and neglect for purposes of stating the reporting obligations of individuals and describing required State/local child protective services agency interventions. For State-by-State information about civil laws related to child abuse and neglect, visit the National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information Web site at [url]http://nccanch.acf.hhs.gov/general/legal/statutes.[/url] 2 While some States authorize child protective services agencies to respond to all reports of alleged child maltreatment, other States authorize law enforcement to respond to certain types of maltreatment, such as sexual or physical abuse. 3 See Mandatory Reporters of Child Abuse and Neglect and Reporting Procedures, available from the National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information Statutes-at-a-Glance Series ([url]http://nccanch.acf.hhs.gov/general/...tutesglance.cfm[/url]). 4 See Definitions of Child Abuse and Neglect, available from the National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information Statutes-at-a-Glance Series ([url]http://nccanch.acf.hhs.gov/general/...tutesglance.cfm[/url]). 5 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2003). Child maltreatment 2001. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office. 6 Child Maltreatment 2001. 7 Child Maltreatment 2001. 8 Under the Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA), while reasonable efforts to preserve and reunify families are still required, State agencies are required to seek termination of the parent-child relationship when a child has been in foster care for 15 of the most recent 22 months. This requirement does not apply (at the State's option) if a child is cared for by a relative, if the termination is not in the best interest of the child, or if the State has not provided adequate services for the family. 9 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2003). The AFCARS Report (Preliminary FY 2001 estimates as of March 2003).
In my experience, I respectfully disagree. The Adoptions and Safe Families Act aka ASFA has made the Child Welfare system and the court system more accountable. ASFA requires the filing of TPR within a specific guideline which was never there before but also gives the states the discretion as to whether it is in the child's best interest. That is a key point and can be argued whether something is truly in that child's best interest however I wouldn't want to see ASFA remove that discretion. There could be extenuating circumstances. The fifteen out of 22 months is a guideline and prevents children from growing up in foster care. Termination of parental rights does take time but also it should never be done hastily. If a petition for termination is not filed at the appropriate time period, then by law a hearing must be held and a finding by the court made giving the reason. The timelimit should have been implemented a long time ago. Concurrent planning should have been initiated years ago. Now permanency planning begins at the time of removal. Parents were given too much time to get their lives together in past while the children suffered. I think everyone would agree that children need permanent homes but I also don't think anyone wants parental rights terminated unless it is the last resort and the only appropriate action. ASFA created some clear requirements for the notification of foster parents for review hearings. It allows for states to bypass reunification efforts for cases where a child suffered severe or heinous abuse/neglect. It also redines foster care as a temporary placement and not permanent. I dont think ASFA is a joke and no it is not perfect but I do think it was a step in the right direction. I don't believe in the competition that has occurred between the states because of the federal monies attached to the number of adoptions. It promotes finding an adoptive home at all cost and not necessarily the best adoptive home for the child. It has become more of a numbers game and that is sad. I understand the thinking because there have been far too many children waiting in foster care. Those kids were put on the back burner because the kids who were in their own homes with reports of being abused and neglected were the ones the system needed to focus on. The kids in foster homes were "safe" and thus...the squeaky wheel gets the oil adage applies. ASFA created a financial incentive for states to promote adoption and I am not sure that is the best way. ASFA in my opinion has clarified and redefined some key areas for the states. You can find reports on what has happened in our Child Welfare system since the implementation of ASFA on casanet.org and several other websites across the internet. T
And, the workers are only required to *petition* for TPR - even if the workers follow the law it doesn't mean the judge will *grant* TPR.
Just to clarify...I was disagreeing with the post that said that ASFA is a joke. :) T
I do not believe the ASFA is a joke by any means---I do believe that there needs to continue to be efforts made to improve the system--and always will need to be changes based on the fact that when one change is made we cannot determine the impact that change will have later--While it is wonderful the federal government has funded Adoption and provided subsideis and other incentives it is clear many of these incentives have resulted in other abuses we did not foresee--example is (POSSIBLE) the family in NJ who 'adopted" and now stands accused of not feeding the boys they were recieving subsidies for. Not to even imply that adoptive families would adopt in order to recieve a pay check--as the subsidies can hardly been seen as enough to indure the process for--however, adoption subsidies do not in most states require any continued visitation from caseworkers therefore the chance does exsist for abuses. Another ripple effect from the passage of the ASFA is the opportunity for Foster Families to adopt their Foster children. While many states did allow this prior to the passage of ASFA many did not and in those states there has been an increase in the numbers of families who decide to Foster as a means to adopt. The idea is grand and right, however the education of these families has not ALWAYS been enough for them to fully understand what they are getting into. The FACT is that in 2001 57% of children were reunited with their birthparents and this number does not indicate how many children are adopted by relatives. Therefore a Foster Familiy needs to understand in advance that there is less then 43% chance any child placed with them will be adopted by them. I think as citizens who are concerned with these issues one of our PRIMARY goals should be to start learning about the judges WE are electing to serve on the courts that will decide the fate of our children in Foster Care--HOW OFTEN DO YOU VOTE and see one judge after another on your ballot running unopposed? Do you really know anything about the judges you are voting for or do you assume an unopposed candidate MUST be the best man for the job? There are three sides to our government and we cannot see changes by working only on one side of the issue--If you want changes you need to ask your Governors, your elected legislature and your judicial branches....ask questions of all the people in charge and make this issue imporatant to your community by speaking out and gathering support--as well as educating the community you live in.... We are not going to get very far when we focus on the caseworkers and the STATE in these areas--they are bound by the laws of the STATE and the federal government. The majority of caseworkers want the same things WE do as Foster parents and adoptive parents---they are only able to act under the laws that are implimented and only as far as the judges we elect will allow them.... It is always so easy to blame the caseworkers for all of this--but they really are only one step above us when it comes right down to it. Speak out and demand answers.
Excellent post, Anna. Thank you for sharing. :) T
thank you all for the quick responses. i agree with you anna. the only way to be heard, is to speak out. and continue to speak out. it is nor always easy when people want you to go along with them. my experience has been that no one wants waves, but we have to speak out for the kids and hold these judges, etc. accountable for their decisions. i think it is worth our time. donna
I said in my experience that the ASFA was a joke. I meant, IN MY EXPERIENCE! We had a child from the time she was 2 months, taken from her mother due to neglect. Mom never got her act together. Mom is about to be TPR'd. Child is now 11 months. Dad- who has never seen child (and denys paternity) is court ordered to undergo DNA testing. He refuses. Child still with us. She is now 18 months. Dad still refusing. At child's 2nd bday, Dad finally gets DNA test. He is father. We take months to transition to Dad's care -Dad gets her, she's there 6 weeks then back to us- nuglect by Dad. She has now been in care 30 months. No permanancy. Co-plan from day 1 has been adoption. We try to get her! This is "our" baby- we tried the - she has been in care for MORE than 15 months of the past 24. We are told that that "law" cannot and will not be enforced. Dad got her back for 3 more 6 week stints. She was finally left in his care with daily family preservation workers on site to "maintain" family integrity. The court report stated that the living conditions were deplorable. Dad got arrested for drug use while she was there the second to last time. No concern from DSS. Teenage girlfriend arrested for prostituting from the home at the same time span. So my family and I are left mourning a child we loved for more than 2 1/2 years. She did not get the family I feel she needed. We feel that the law is a joke here. I know it should be a good law, and if it works for even one child, it is! It just wasn't that way for us. :mad:
Wow KforKids! Given your experience I might say the same thing. What a horrible ordeal for this child! Did this child have legal representation? Guardian Ad Litem? CASA? Sounds like a case where the system truly failed to seek the best interest of the child. I would strongly recommend that you write everything down that has happened and send it to the director of your state agency and your state representative. Be detailed but keep it factual. Ask the question formally as to why ASFA did not apply to this situation. Request a response in writing as well. It may not make a difference in the case of this child but it could very well make a difference for another. If changes are ever going to be made, folks such as yourself who have seen mistakes made first hand must be willing to step up and report it. From your experience as a foster parent, what changes could and should have been made? Give suggestions or recommendations of how to make your system better and include those along with your letter. I am so sorry for your pain and I can only imagine how you feel. It hurts also to know what this child has gone through. Experiences such as you have described are what give Child Welfare and Social Workers a bad name. Take care and please know you will be in my thoughts and prayers. T
T, It was horrible- she only knew me as Mom. She had a GAL. This GAL was (is) an attorney- in NC this is done when a parent has been in the system to avoid a "conflict of interest". This GAL NEVER visited our home, and only saw the child twice in nearly 3 years. She did state multiple times that it was apparent that she was better off in our home. GAL did not say this in court. However, in what to me was a blatant conflict of interest, our fd had the same SW as her bioparent had had. I took this to the top of both DSS and GAL agencies- and never got a satisfactory answer. We wrote letters to the local judges, and they voiced there general support, but did nothing to change this case. We feel we were probably blackballed by the agency after this. We fostered multiple kids, but not one ever went to adoption. We are no longer with this agency, are using a private agency instead. Time has gone a long way toward helping, but I pray for this little one every day. I miss her terribly!
My children have been in foster care for over 4 yrs. They are 13 and 14 and DCFS will NOT tpr and make them available for adoption. I have written letters to the cw, her supervisor, her supervisor, the director, our governor, senator, the judge in charge of the case. They all say the kids are better off in permanent foster care because of their ages. We are willing to adopt them, the kids have told their cw and GAL that they want to be adopted, the therapist has written to DCFS saying that the kids best interests would be to be adopted. NO one will listen. No one cares. There are no interested family members. Bmom is in and out of their lives (she's been out for 1 1/2 yrs and counting). ASFA is a joke when no one will follow it. I asked everyone about it and they all say it's just a guideline and it's up to DCFS. I talked to DCFS lawyer and she told me that the case isn't strong enough. HUH? After four years? The bmom is very sypathetic and the judge keeps giving her more time. Yet now with the goal changed from RU to pfc, why not tpr? I'm not looking for suggestions. I've already been told loud and clear that if I don't like it (in otherwords if I don't shut up), they will find new homes for the kids. I'm fed up with this screwed up (being nice here) system!
riley6 and kforkids--I would never be able to guess where the system failed these children and why!!! It is really clear that the ASFA is not being adheared to in every situation and these situations do need to stop! I cannot believe that the state would go for perm fc when a family wants to adopt--good greif one of the main reasons for ASFA being passed was to help these older children NOT grow up as perm fc! Clearly there are still some big areas to work on! In reverse of your situation I am sometimes 'concerned' that our children's birthmother had TPR only 11 months after her children were placed into care! I worry sometimes that she didn't have a chane--even though I am told that if 'I knew everything' I would understand!??? That only leads me to wonder--what it is I do not know? When I read the info I have it is cler the children were suffering and needed to have intervention--however what I do not know is what services the birthmother was offered--what did she refuse--and what made this case go even faster then the outline for ASFA? When she had another baby they moved for TPR before the child even left the hospital! What don't we know about this case? While I still believe the system is greatly improved due to ASFA--clearly it is not applied to each case--and this fact is where more then just you as the foster families interested in adoption need support from those of us NOT directly involved in the situation. The general public needs to be more aware and give a care about these issues! Trying to fight these situations from inside clearly is detremental to a sopecific case--the foster families end up being 'black-balled' and are considered too close to the situation! It really is going to take awareness in our communities and others besides us being interested in the outcome and enforcement of these new guidlines! These are the stories that compell questions for me!
all of these stories eally hit home for us because DHS has screwed up so much about our case. my story is long, but when it is over, i am going to the media, governor's office, state representative, etc. i will talk to whoever will listen. i have been told by the social workers, DHS themselves, attorneys, etc. that what happened to us is not right. BUT will THEY speak out?? no, because it will cost them their job. i asked them, "how do you go to bed at night knowing what you know and not doing anything"? always the same answer - you get use to it. I want to say HELLO!!! these kids are suffering and you could make a difference, but you choose to look the other way. i am now being asked to file a petition for adoption for a child who has not been tpr'ed yet - what will that accomplish?? its not my resposibility to hold this bdad accountable - that belongs to the state. people like us open our homes and hearts and want to help only to be slapped in the face by the people who use to think you were so wonderful (DHS). it litterly makes me ill. oh, and we got "blackballed" too. we come face to face with DHS in court and they act like we have no right to be there. BUT if your stroking their ego, their all over you. It really is a joke. i propose we start a petition about SFA of 1997 and get everyones name, address, etc. on it (in a safe internet format) that we can print off and use, so we don't feel we are standing alone. show our governor's that its not just our state, but all across this county. donna
i am compiling a list to send to the governor of arkansas. if you would like your story and comments about the safe family act of 1997 to be seen by him, please email me privately. at this point i am gathering info because i plan on contacting his office in the near future about our case. please include your name and city, state. no one else will see it besides his office. stick to the facts. i know i am only one person, but our adoption has gone so bad that once it is finalized and our son is safely with us, i am opening my mouth. if you have complaints, i suggest we stand together on this. sincerely. donna v :)